Staff pay tribute to outgoing Hartlepool foodbank founder

Abi Knowles and Al Wales at Hartlepool Foodbank
Picture by Jane Coltman
Abi Knowles and Al Wales at Hartlepool Foodbank Picture by Jane Coltman
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A founder of Hartlepool Foodbank has said a fond farewell after more than three years.

Al Wales, co-ordinator of the food charity based in Church Street, helped to launch the project towards the end of 2012.

Al Wales and colleagues at Hartlepool Foodbank
Picture by Jane Coltman

Al Wales and colleagues at Hartlepool Foodbank Picture by Jane Coltman

She was presented with gifts and given a send off by appreciative members from a host of local organisations that works with the foodbank.

Al’s shoes will be filled by newcomer Abi Knowles.

Al said she is looking forward to spending more time with her family of husband Jon and their children Isaac, 14, Esther, 12, and ten-year-old Hudson.

She said: “It has been an absolute joy and privilege to be part of the project.

It has been an absolute joy and privilege to be part of the project

Al Wales

“I am really proud of it and its reputation. The backbone is the phenomenal team of volunteers who are just a joy to work with and I will be really sad to leave them.”

New co-ordinator Abi, who is originally from Horden, joins the foodbank after previously working for Traidcraft, in Gateshead which buys and sells FairTrade products to support projects in developing countries.

She said about joining Hartlepool Foodbank: “It seemed like a really great way to help people a bit closer to home.

“There is such a lot of need in our community for a lot of different reasons.

“It is really nice to be able to do a job where you feel you are making a difference every day.”

Clive Hall, Hartlepool foodbank trust chairman, said Al would be much missed by everyone involved with the project.

He said: “Al has been with us right from the start, she was a central figure in planning and preparing and putting everything together.

“Without a doubt she will be really missed. People say she is going to leave big shoes to fill but I’m sure Abi who is coming in will be up to the task.”

The presentation on Friday also introduced Abi to representatives of the partner groups and foodbank supporters.

In 2015-16, 1,932 three day emergency food supplies were provided by Hartlepool Foodbank to people in crisis.

And a recent three day collection at Tesco Extra, in Burn Road, collected 2501.8kg of food equating to 7,148 meals.

The Mail launched a successful We Can You Can campaign ahead of the foodbank opening in December 2012.

Under Al’s guidance, it has expanded over time to also help clients deal with debt.